Background: Eye-tracking technology has been shown to improve trainee performance in the aircraft industry, radiology, and surgery. The ability to track the point-of-regard of a supervisor and reflect this onto a subjects' laparoscopic screen to aid instruction of a simulated task is attractive, in particular when considering the multilingual make up of modern surgical teams and the development of collaborative surgical techniques. We tried to develop a bespoke interface to project a supervisors' point-of-regard onto a subjects' laparoscopic screen and to investigate whether using the supervisor's eye-gaze could be used as a tool to aid the identification of a target during a surgical-simulated task.
Methods: We developed software to project a supervisors' point-of-regard onto a subjects' screen whilst undertaking surgically related laparoscopic tasks. Twenty-eight subjects with varying levels of operative experience and proficiency in English undertook a series of surgically minded laparoscopic tasks. Subjects were instructed with verbal queues (V), a cursor reflecting supervisor's eye-gaze (E), or both (VE). Performance metrics included time to complete tasks, eye-gaze latency, and number of errors.
Results: Completion times and number of errors were significantly reduced when eye-gaze instruction was employed (VE, E). In addition, the time taken for the subject to correctly focus on the target (latency) was significantly reduced.
Conclusions: We have successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of a novel framework to enable a supervisor eye-gaze to be projected onto a trainee's laparoscopic screen. Furthermore, we have shown that utilizing eye-tracking technology to provide visual instruction improves completion times and reduces errors in a simulated environment. Although this technology requires significant development, the potential applications are wide-ranging.